The Dynamic Duo: Tisch and Steiner Seize the Education Agenda, A New Teacher Evaluation System Created and Supported by Teacher Unions.

The Board of Regents and the State Education Department may be the highest education governance body  in New York State, to teachers, aside from a web site that provides copies of old exams and is difficult to get on the phone if you have a certification issue, they have appear irrelevant. 
The Regents, a 200 plus year old body is selected by a joint meeting of state legislature; although a political decision, the selectees are frequently highly regarded in their communities. The last two Regents selected,  Lester Young and Betty Rosa, had long distinguished careers as educators. The head of the Regents, the Chancellor, was frequently an anonymous businessman from upstate. The Regents select the Commissioner, who sets education policy in the state.
A year ago, Meryl Tisch, a rabbi’s daughter from the lower East Side and a former teacher, was selected as Chancellor and David Steiner, who served as the Director of Arts Education for the National Endowment of the Arts and the Dean of Education at Hunter College was selected as Commissioner.
Like no other prior Regent, Tisch engaged herself in the rough and tumble of politics. She has strong views on Charter Schools and has not been shy about expressing herself. She has served on numerous panels and can navigate the worlds of Bloomberg, Klein, Weingarten and Mulgrew.
On Tuesday Tisch, Steiner, State union chief Iannuzzi and UFT president Mulgrew announced a total rewriting of the State teacher evaluation system. (see State Ed press release here and NYSUT, the state union here, David Steiner Daily News op ed here  and Q & A on UFT website here)
Joel Klein was nowhere to been seen and panned the agreement.

“The more you get inside and look” at the agreement, Klein said, “the more unanswered questions” you find.

Too much, he said, is left to be negotiated with the unions .

The proposed law requires the Department to negotiate many features of the plan with the union under the auspices of the State Education Department. Rather than “negotiating” through the NY Post, the Wall Street Journal or Joe Williams the framework is established by law. The proposal robs Joel of a political platform, it forces him to engage the union or to appear to be the spoilsport.

Although Klein praised the abolition of rubber rooms and the expedited dismissal procedures it is clear that the plan was Bloomberg driven.

With an innovative teacher evaluation plan in place, and maybe a charter school law revision, the chances of the Race to the Top bounty has brightened considerably.

A Tisch/Steiner/Iannuzzi/Mulgrew partnership, with Joel outside looking in, is a monumental change in the educational power structure, a coup d’etat.

The plan is complex and does not go into effect until the 11-12 school year. There is a great of work to be done. Creating assessments in non-tested areas, defining a growth model for students and a value-added model for teachers, designing rubrics for the four levels of evaluation, tip-toeing into the peer review arena, fleshing out the Teacher Improvement Plan metrics, complex all, and all with teacher involvement.

For his eight years Joel has set the agenda and deflected teacher union brickbats, almost gleefully. It looks like the sun is setting on Tweed and will be glowing on that building on Washington Avenue housing the dynamic duo, Meryl and Dave.


4 responses to “The Dynamic Duo: Tisch and Steiner Seize the Education Agenda, A New Teacher Evaluation System Created and Supported by Teacher Unions.

  1. Eric Nadelstern

    The only really important question, Peter, is will it be better for kids, teachers and schools?


  2. Mr. Nadelstern- you’re supposed to be the expert, correct? So why don’t you tell us? Your “research” had told you that 2/3rds of us “need improvement.” Will an entire school culture driven by testing make education better? My kids nearly cried this morning when I informed them that they have NYS field testing on Monday- they just finished their ELA and math exams. Enough is enough with the testing. There has to be a better way.


  3. How is the city planning to use the $704 million RttT money? I have not heard anything about the use of it. If anyone has any ideas on how the RttT money should be used, please detail it here.


    • The SED is re-writing the RttTop proposal for the June 1st filing date, I’m sure it will be online shortly after the filing … the proposal will be quite specific and driven by SED, half at the State level and half supporting programs locally. A State-Wide Data System will be a key componet. The dollars are over four years and cannot be used to reduce the State deficit. USDOE decisions in September.

      The SED is currently working how the $300 million in federal (SIG), State Incentive Grants will be spent to support the 58 (34 in NYC) “persistently lowest performing schools.”


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